With their long, graceful leaves arching in cascades from a central base, spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) have an attractive, fountain-like appearance that makes them popular houseplants. While some enjoy the trailing look, others prefer a fuller, bushier plant. Fortunately, encouraging a spider plant to grow in a more filled-out, compact shape is quite simple. With the right propagation, pruning, and care methods you can coax your spider plant to reach its bushy potential.
Choose the Right Spider Plant Propagation Methods
The most foolproof way to obtain stocky spider plants is to take cuttings from established plants with a bushy character. Select offshoots or “spiderettes” that have sturdy, not spindly, leaves and place two to three per pot rather than just one. The fullness of mature cuttings will transfer to the next generation.
Allow Cuttings to Develop Strong Roots
Don’t separate propagation cuttings from the parent plant too early. Leave them attached until aerial roots are at least two inches long, allowing plants to form a robust root system that supports full, bushy growth.
Use Containers to Restrict Spreading
You can guide spider plants to grow bushy right from the start by rooting cuttings in containers rather than planting them individually in garden beds. Restricting root spread promotes upright growth. Just avoid overcrowding plants or restricting roots too much.
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Proper Pruning Maximizes Fullness
Once your spider plant is established, pruning strategically channels its energy into producing more offshoots rather than runners. Trim long strands back to the base to encourage the plant to branch and fill out.
Remove Old Foliage
Regularly pruning old leaves down to the center also improves air circulation and light exposure. Your plant will refocus that energy into creating new leaves. Remove any discolored or damaged foliage as well which can harbor pests and disease.
Divide Overcrowded Clumps
Every two to three years, assess if your spider plant has overgrown its space and begun spreading out. Dividing rootbound clumps into smaller sections reduces competition, reinvigorates growth, and enhances fullness through increased offshoot production.
Optimize Growing Conditions
Use a well-draining, loose potting mix amended with compost or peat moss which mimics the loose, organic-rich soils spider plants thrive in. Soil density impacts plant shape too. Tighter soils tend to produce stretched growth while loose mixes encourage compact growth.
Increase Light Exposure
Lack of adequate sunlight is one of the most common factors causing spider plants to grow in a leggy manner as they reach for light. Provide very bright, indirect light to foster fuller, bushier foliage production. Grow lights also supplement natural sunlight in low-light conditions.
Consistent Water and Nutrients
Don’t allow plants to dry out completely between waterings which can stress plants and inhibit lush growth. Fertilize monthly during the growing season using a balanced liquid fertilizer. This fuels the energetic, bushy growth you want to achieve.
Ideal Temperature Range
Spider plants thrive in average household temperatures between 60°F to 80°F, appreciating a drop in temperature at night. Sustained chill below 50°F slows growth and may compromise plant shape if ongoing. Protect plants from cold drafts and relocate away from heat vents or appliances.
With excellent care tailored to their needs, spider plants readily grow bushy and full. Propagate only the sturdiest cuttings, routinely prune back leggy growth, divide overcrowded plants, and provide ideal potting mix, light levels, water, and temperatures. Guiding your spider plant’s exuberant growth instincts in the right direction results in a shapely, lush, cascading houseplant you’ll enjoy for years.